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CPA WHO OVERSEES THE EXAMINATION : Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the title of qualified accountants in numerous countries in the English-speaking world. In the United States, the CPA is a license to provide accounting services directly to the public. It is awarded by each of the 50 states for practice in that state. Additionally, almost every state (49 out of 50) has passed mobility laws in order to allow practice in their state by CPAs from other states. Although state licensing requirements vary, the minimum standard requirements include the passing of the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, 150 semester units of college education, and one year of accounting related experience.

Continuing professional education (CPE) is also required to maintain licensure. Individuals who have been awarded the CPA but have lapsed in the fulfillment of the required CPE or have requested to be converted to inactive status are in many states permitted to use the designation “CPA Inactive” or an equivalent phrase. In most U.S. states, only CPAs are legally able to provide to the public attestation (including auditing) opinions on financial statements. Many CPAs are members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and their state CPA society.

State laws vary widely regarding whether a non-CPA is even allowed to use the title accountant. To illustrate, Texas prohibits the use of the designations “accountant” and “auditor” by a person not certified as a Texas CPA, unless that person is a CPA in another state, is a non-resident of Texas, and otherwise meets the requirements for practice in Texas by out-of-state CPA firms and practitioners.

Governance: The AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE)

The AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE), a senior committee of the AICPA, is the body that sets policy for the Uniform CPA Examination (“Examination”) in accordance with legal and psychometric standards as they apply to licensure examinations. In addition, the BOE (1) oversees the development and scoring of the Examination; (2) ensures that Examination is consonant with the knowledge and skill requirements of newly licensed CPAs; and (3) represents the Examination to state boards of accountancy and the profession.


The Mission of the BOE

The mission of the BOE is to provide reasonable assurance to boards of accountancy that candidates who pass the Examination possess the level of technical knowledge and the skills necessary for initial licensure to protect the public interest.


BOE Membership

Members of the BOE are CPA volunteers from every segment of the profession – public accounting, business and industry, and the academic community – the majority of whom currently also have regulatory (state board) experience. There are also some BOE members – such as psychometricians – who are not CPAs but have expertise required by the BOE. Psychometricians are experts on the technical aspects of test development and scoring.


The BOE Committee Structure

The Content Committee

The Content Committee is responsible for the technical content of the Examination. Membership in the Content Committee is limited to CPAs, most of whom are representatives of the Content Committee’s five subcommittees. Of the five subcommittees, there is one subcommittee for each of the four Examination sections, and one for IQEX (the International Qualification Examination). Each subcommittee is responsible for the development of Examination content in accordance with BOE guidelines and policies.


The Psychometric Oversight Committee (POC)

The POC directs and evaluates Examination research, and oversees the application of psychometric procedures in accordance with the international standards applicable to licensure and certification examinations. Members of the POC are psychometricians with expertise in psychometric procedures, measurement theories, computer-based testing, and legal issues relevant to licensure examinations.


The State Board Committee (SBC)

The SBC serves as a communication link between the BOE and state boards of accountancy. It is responsible for communicating state board concerns to the BOE and keeping state boards of accountancy advised of BOE activities and decisions. SBC membership is limited to state board of accountancy members/chairs or executive directors.


The BOE and the AICPA Examinations Team

The AICPA Examinations Team works under the oversight of the BOE, carrying out BOE directives with regard to the development and scoring of the Examination. The Examinations Team is composed of CPAs, psychometricians, statisticians, test developers, and administrative staff.


The BOE Decision-Making Process

The BOE seeks expert advice and input from stakeholders prior to making decisions that will affect the Examination. Depending on the issue, the BOE may consult with state boards of accountancy, request recommendations from its committees, ask the AICPA Examinations Team to investigate issues, or seek the views of a broad spectrum of Examination stakeholders and the profession as a whole.

The 2016 Practice Analysis Final Report for the Examination provides a good illustration of how the BOE involves numerous constituencies in its decisions and projects.


The BOE Communication Outreach

The BOE maintains open channels of communication with Examination constituencies. The BOE employs various means in its outreach, including announcements, webcasts, exposure drafts, conference presentations, CPA Examination forums, website materials and published articles.

The BOE communicates with state boards of accountancy through the State Board Committee as well as NASBA (National Association of State Boards), NASBA committees whose representatives attend BOE meetings, BOE/accountancy board conference calls, and BOE-authorized mailings from the AICPA Examinations Team. Major announcements on Examination topics are also distributed to other constituents, such as educators, state CPA societies, and professional associations.


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